Saturday, December 11, 2010

San Antonio Spurs 108 Atlanta Hawks 92


Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
SA 91
1.187 59.7

Limitations both predictable (the lack of anyone capable of staying in front of Tony Parker) and unpredictable (Josh Smith, after appearing to injury his quad spectacularly blocking a Tim Duncan dunk attempt with 4:16 left in the third quarter, and Al Horford, after picking up his fifth foul with 7:50 left in the fourth quarter, spending long stretches of the fourth quarter on the bench) conspired to condemn the Atlanta Hawks to defeat in San Antonio for the thirteenth straight season.

The game probably won't be sufficient to kill off the conflation of effort and defensive effectiveness but it should put a damper on efforts to draw a direct correlation between the two. The Hawks did not lack for effort tonight. The Hawks lacked for quality defenders. For most of the last eight minutes the Spurs, with Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili sitting on the bench, unnecessary to their efforts to finish off the Hawks in style, put the ball in Tony Parker's hands, spread the floor with three shooters, and used DeJuan Blair both to set solid ball-screens and to occupy the largest Hawk on the floor with a serious offensive rebounding threat. With one Hawk big man (and with one Hawk big man often being Jason Collins or Josh Powell) attending to Blair and the other occupied with Matt Bonner at the three-point line, Mike Bibby lacked sufficient help with Parker both at the point of attack and at the rim.

The Hawks had no offensive answer to the relentless nature with which the Spurs attacked Atlanta's defensive weaknesses. Here too the absence of Smith (15 points on 12 shots, 5 assists, 4 turnovers) and Horford (19 points on 14 shots, 4 turnovers) was a factor but so were Jamal Crawford's limitations.* Where Parker could attack off the dribble to create a layup or a three-point shot for himself or his teammates, Crawford could only attack off the dribble to
create a jump shot for himself. Crawford started out hot, making five of his first six shots, but, due to the difficulty of the shots he could get for himself it should not have been especially surprising he missed 8 of his last 11 attempts from the field.

Not that anyone thought the Hawks, at full strength, to be the better of these two teams. And when the better team plays better basketball on the particular night, the game can, as it did, get out of hand out any time.

*Again, Crawford took on perhaps an unfair burden in the fourth quarter as Powell and Collins played 10:57 of the fourth quarter, combing to score 2 points on 3 shots (all from Powell) and causing (in the case of Collins's hands) one Mike Bibby turnover.

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